Microsoft Testing Speech-to-Text Accessibility Feature in ‘Halo Wars 2’

The plan is for more games to get this option in the future, too.

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Mar 16 2017, 6:00pm

Games are often designed assuming players are alike, but in reality, that's not true. Some have varying disabilities, from color blindness to limited motor skills, that make gaming a challenge. That's why it's encouraging when developers try to account for people who need more tools, like Microsoft rolling out speech-to-text and text-to-speech features in Halo Wars 2 this week.

Specifically citing an opportunity to make games "more accessible and inclusive," Microsoft published a blog yesterday outlining how Halo Wars 2 players, on both Xbox One and Windows 10, can make voice-chat functions more accessible. With the new "speech-to-text" functionality, you can have other players' voice communications turned into real-time text so you can read what they are saying, and with "text-to-speech" you can turn your own typed replies into spoken words that other players will hear as voice chat.

Per Microsoft, here's how to enable the feature, if you're playing Halo Wars 2:

  1. Go to Settings > All settings > Ease of Access > Game Chat Transcription.
  2. To transcribe other players' voices into text, select Speech-to-text.
  3. To have your chat text read aloud to other players, select Text-to-speech.
  4. To choose the voice that other players will hear when your chat text is read aloud, select one of the available voices in the Text-to-speech voice menu

The feature is limited to Halo Wars 2, but Microsoft says the plan is to add "support for more games in the future." It'd be nice to see this become a standard.

When I've talked to developers over the years, one of the biggest reasons they cite for not including more options is because they're unaware there's a demand. It took a disabled player meeting with Naughty Dog, for example, for them to understand why some Uncharted players would want the ability to remove the game's demand for smashing a single button over and over during QTE sequences and the ability for the game to automatically lock-on to enemies roaming around.

If you want a better understanding of the work Naughty Dog put in, watch this:

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